Thursday, January 21, 2016
Dark Stars VI: Netherspace Sector Survey Report #2
Tonight's session had the group bump back up to six active players, so there was some shuffling about as we had two new characters to introduce; one existing player (Jeff!) couldn't resist bringing in a new PC while his old star knight was given over to a guest player who will be in our group for the next few weeks.
At the start of this session the group is en route to the Blight system when the engineer Otzi informs them that there's a new coolant leak, this time in the Cold Berth Unit....no one's fully explored this ship, so the news they have a cold berth section is a bit of a shock!
On arrival the crew discovers 24 cold berths holding a medley of people in stasis. Three have failed....after repairing the leak, the three failures have to be emergency thawed and awakened. Two process correctly, but the third person does not...apparently dead!
The two new members are, it turns out, backup replacements for the main crew; it is quickly revealed that Dyvinil and Marlese (sorry if I didn't get the names right!) were recruited before the other adventurers by the same naval Captain Lars, who then placed them in suspended animation in the cold berths as emergency backup crew should the primary crew fail....part of the reason being the actual light cruiser they are using isn't really equipped to handle more than 4-8 crew for long periods (it is rationalized) but also, it seems Captain Lars has little stock in his mercenary surveyors, as Dirk, Day-Ro, 101010 and Erin realize that there are a total of 24 (now 21) cold berths here, each ready to thaw in an emergency.... (the players figure out quickly this is where all their replacement PCs will come from in the event of death; or they can turn them into crewmen if they want to thaw early...)
The crew now consists of:
Dyvinil, a magical star girl (from that "Totally not sailor Moon" sourcebook for White Star)
Marlese, an aristocrat and xenosociologist
Dirk, a mercenary who is slow to trust
101010 the emancipated Combat Robot
Erin the crack starpilot with a pet AI-controlled snub fighter stolen from the Void Lords
Day-Ro, the Star Knight (pronounced Dee-Row; Day-Ro is his slave name!)
Samaros the survivor (NPC)
Otzi the engineer (NPC)
They have some ship-board escapades, which were a bit chaotic as the crew settled on a rough pattern of relaying actions to the GM (heh):
1. They realized that the body of the third stasis crewman was not dead of natural causes; a monoblade was sticking from his chest.
2. Dirk and 101010 investigate ship recordings and see evidence of a camouflaged being open the stasis pod, take a mysterious box from the man in stasis and stab him. The timestamps says it happened before they left on their voyage.
3. Day-Ro and Dyvinil explore the ship, realizing they haven't actually done this yet. They discover a mysterious hatch leading to a hidden cargo pod with a code they can't crack; A cargo chamber containing hundreds of metal hollow cubes that seem to be magnetically attracted and form some sort of immense puzzle; evidence that Otzi has disabled all monitoring systems in the engineering compartments; and finally a medical bay, complete with advanced medical droid M-8, who asks them if "Captain Ephemeran" is still in charge (nope). Day-Ro becomes obsessed with the puzzle, but realizes its pieces are too many, and the final product will be larger than the cargo hold.
3. Marlese stowed the body in stasis then dragged it to the medbay after the medical droid M-8 ("Mate") said he could probably revive the man if he was only 12 hours dead or less. The wonders of modern medicine!
4. While Erin skillfully plots a course around a mysterious wormhole they decide to avoid, the resurrected victim Max Suller bursts into the bridge with laser, holding Otzi hostage, demanding that whoever took his "Mother Box" return it immediately! After he's talked down and gives in, they find a man obsessed.....a professional transporter who was hired to deliver a mysterious Mother Box from a Makamian scout who claims it came from New Germanica to an unknown benefactor....but that's not happening now. And worse, Suller shows signs of withdrawal, apparently caused by contact with the box. They hand him over to M-8 for a detox.
Then the ship arrives at their next survey target: Blight, a world named by the first and only scout to traverse this area for its utter lack of warmth and singularly doomed post-apocalyptic world in the Goldilocks zone. They scan and detect the following:
1. Another T-Space exit signature only twenty minutes after they arrive...not unlike what the saw in the last system. Coincidence???
2. A large silver disk in orbit around Blight, the ruined world.
They approach the silver disk (some would say saucer....a quarter mile long saucer) and three snub fighters shaped vaguely like menacing bats launch and threaten them. Dirk realizes a protocol for contact is a good idea, and Marlese almost blows its before Erin intervenes. They begin speaking with a race of bat-like chilopteroids, and meet Commander Makama. After some discussion the commander seems to think his overlord, Chiron, would like to meet the adventurers so they are invited to the ship-station.
The saucer is a small world in its own right, dark and gothic and reminiscent of the ship from the movie Life Force, with giant holds filled with thousands of chilopteroids in stasis. The crew meets Chiron, the chilopteroid leader, in a large golden chamber with a ruby red organ-like crystalline music instrument. Odd slaves of other races serve food, and are a clue the new aliens may not be so friendly (one of many clues).
Chiron interrogates them to see why the crew is here, but seems satisfied they are not foes, and indeed assumes they are mercenaries from talking to Dirk. He offers to hire them to journey to the planet below, to retrieve something he calls the "Stellar Librarian" though he doesn't know what it looks like....a relic of the lost age of this planet, he explains; something his race wishes to preserve, in the name of history. He explains further that a star witch from the Segurandi Dominion is already looking for it, near the ruins of the city Camado on the planet; he is worried she is on to something. The crew thinks on it, but Dyvinil starts to weird out; the chilopteroids show evidence of camouflage, and are very suspicious, plus the slave thing. She starts glowing and changing colors. Everyone leaves as Chiron gets upset at Dyvinil's glowy stuff..
Back at the ship 101010 confronts a crew of chiloptroids trying to scan the vessel, especially the length of hull where the hidden cargo compartment is that no one's busted in to yet. They depart rather than fight the robot.
After returning to the ship, the crew gets a second message from the commander: he promises to double whatever Chiron offered if they destroy the star witch and her ship!
The crew leave and decide to try scanning the location of the T-Space exit location they recorded when they first arrived in-system. They find an ionized gas cloud signature that lets them calculate the direction of the vessel...sure enough, it made orbit and then went in to the atmosphere for a landing...near the ruins of this Camado City.
They follow the trail and break into a massive super-storm below, roaring over what appears to be a vast city of ancient skyscrapers overgrown by a dense jungle. As they are weaving through the immense skyscrapers covered in greenery, a cloaked gunship pops up and attacks! It's surprise volley misses.
The ships engage in a fierce chase/fight. The gunship blows a skyscraper over and Erin is able to pilot the cruiser to swoop beneath the crumbling mass then around and over it in a 180 degree turn, While everyone fires full lasers and torpedos. They take a major hit, but a daring series of strikes cripples the gunship and with a final pull of the trigger it explodes. Their cruiser needs repairs, though.
They set down in the jungle at an open area. They are greeted by seven-foot tall red and blue carapaced, inect-like humanoids with four arms and two legs, armed with primitive gear. The natives offer a piece of the downed gunship as a token of their appreciation. The leader, after the translator chips kick in, explains that they have been waiting for the benevolent "Star Gods" to come and save them from the Star Demons....both the ones in the sky who enslave their bretheren, and the others who now walk through the taboo city, seeking out their source of Life and Knowledge, the mysterious Stellar Librarian. The natives appeal to the PCs good hearts: save the Stellar Librarian, and save their people.
On the way to their village they encounter a gigantic, Kong-sized flying ape with great, membranous wings. They luckily roll initiative and a quick volley of fire takes it down. The natives are delighted, for it seems the sky-apes (called Gromics) are sentient and try to force the Blightians to worship them.....and this was a young scout. More will come!
The group arrives at the encampent, in a huge superdome once used to play ballgames. The natives swarm the "star gods" in joy. Beyond their base lies the taboo realm of the old city.....
We paused here.
This session we used some cool "Swords & Wizardry Karma Deck" cards from Creation's Edge Games which were a lot of fun. I've had them for a while and this seemed like a fine time to try them out....I just told everyone to substitute "meditation" for spell and they worked great.
We also implemented DWD Games' Skill system in Hyperspace Messenger 4. It's a nice, easy to use skill system add-on that works great and adds a little flavor to the PCs.